Sue Ong Lim on Being a Transformational Leader in the Tech Industry

This Women’s Month, The Business Manual puts the spotlight on women who lead, focusing on Sue Ong Lim, the new Managing Director of Acer Philippines Inc.

Having risen from the ranks and worked in the company for the past 15 years, Sue Cashmere Ong Lim exudes confidence as she assumes the role of Managing Director of Acer Philippines Inc. Sue has spent the majority of her career in the technology industry. She had a brief stint with SFI Group of Companies in 2003, spent the next five years in Asian Technologies Computer Corp. where she eventually became its General Manager, and did not mind starting anew as Sr. Sales Manager for Commercial Business in Acer Philippines when she transferred. It was a move that proved to be career-defining.

Today, Sue Ong Lim is the Managing Director of Acer Philippines, which has been the number one brand of PCs in the country for 15 consecutive years and in the laptop category for the past 18 years.

Clear Strategic Direction for Acer Philippines

As the newly-minted Managing Director, Lim runs the entire business, which encompasses operational and organizational functions, and its products and services. “My typical work day consists of multiple meetings with channel partners, distributors, end-consumer accounts, external stakeholders, and industry partners,” she says. As retail trade is a top priority, she also takes time to personally conduct checks in different parts of the country.

With corporate governance in place, this female boss believes that the empowerment-accountability dichotomy works best in leading the organization. According to Lim, “As a leader, it is imperative that a clear strategic direction is set. An empowering management style is often reciprocated with a strong sense of ownership, hence, exceptional accountability from team members.” This self-reinforcing cycle, she believes, works well given that proper guidance is provided along the way. “I can be very business-driven but I also care personally for my people as much as I do for the business itself,” she says.

Sue Cashmere Ong Lim, Managing Director of Acer Philippines Inc., considers having a growth mindset, integrity and the ability to unite a team in vision and action as top qualities of a corporate leader.

In the fast-paced digital world, tech companies have to keep pace with emerging technologies, market trends and best practices. For Sue, the top three challenges she faces are the following:

1. Cutthroat Competition

The ICT industry is highly competitive, especially with hardware brands competing for market share and wallet share. Sue addresses the issue in both the short and long term perspectives. “I’m a very data-driven person so I review and study the numbers that are presented to me daily and act accordingly–all the while ensuring that the brand is built on trust, relationships with channel partners are fostered and maintaining the right people and culture within the organization. The latter is, undeniably, Acer’s most important asset.”

2. Fast-Paced Environment

With so many players in the Philippine market, the industry is always running at full gear. The risk of inventory obsolescence, competitor share takeover, and simply market irrelevance is ever present. Again, Sue deals with these risks by crunching the numbers in weekly reviews with her key people to find the most vigorous strategic solutions.

3. Creating Value for Customers

To achieve this goal, Sue follows the principles of the 3A’s.

Affordability – A wide range of products gives the consumers the power of choice. Lim explains, “We want to make technology affordable to every market demography. Our entry level laptop, for example, costs P20,000 ++ while our premium models that come with all the bells and whistles go for as high as P200,00++. To make the decision easier at the point of purchase, we have partnered with financial institutions in developing installment payment options with no interest fees.”

Availability – The surge in demand during the pandemic in 2020-2022 for laptops and PCs for online studies and work from home setups has corrected itself but the robust demand remains following the new normal and hybrid environment. To supply the metropolitan as well as remote areas of the archipelago, Acer has made it its mission to build a strong network of dealers and distributors in order create a wide footprint all over the country.

Accessibility – IDC shows that the Philippines ranks lowest in PC penetration within the APAC region. Acer continues to make inroads to address this alongside its availability goals.

Emerging Trends

As computers have become an essential productivity tool for learning and working due to the advent of digitalization, and most recently artificial intelligence (AI), there is a healthy market demand for personal computers. 2024 is expected to be another banner year fueled by fresh opportunities as well as a positive economic outlook in the country, with government spending as a main catalyst. “Although laptops are still largely bought for study and work use, the gaming capacity and features of our laptops have gained much interest and captured a sizeable customer base,” Sue enthused.

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Market Leader – Acer Philippines has 34.7% and 39% share of consumer and gaming notebooks in the country. This means that a third of Filipinos own an Acer.

In addition, Acer has branched out into the white market by evolving into a lifestyle brand. AcerPure now carries household implements, beauty gadgets and will soon add smart appliance to the roster.

On Safety, Sustainability and Environment-Friendly Practices

Acer has consciously put vision care capabilities into their products. This includes features such as blue light shield (reduces blue light emission), light sense (automatic brightness adjustment for the most comfortable viewing), flickerless (eliminates harmful flickering), and proxi-sence (provides reminders to take a break to maintain eye health) and others.

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Moreover, Acer is actively taking steps to reach its objective of having a circular economy. This is evident in their latest products such as the Acer Vero which is made of green materials.

Consumers can also expect new PC product innovations. There is also the promise of AI in generating more user productivity and also diversifying into other areas of business that will create more value for consumers’ lifestyles.

Being a Female Leader in a Male-Dominated Industry

Sue holds her own in a field still widely dominated by men. For two years running now, Acer has been voted by Forbes as one of the World’s Top Company for Women. “I believe in inclusivity and equality regardless of gender. I inspire the team to come up with innovative and new ways to grow and improve the business,“ she says. Independence in problem solving and decision making is likewise supported by Sue. “People, regardless of gender are what makes an organization successful.”

For the young girls who want to enter the corporate world, Sue advises emphatically not to let gender be a hindrance, saying, “Commitment, dedication, and hard work are essential. Be mentally strong, put yourself out there, and work on your strengths. Everything else will follow.”